New Jersey reported another 488 cases of coronavirus Friday, bringing the state’s cumulative total to 178,345 cases since the start of the pandemic.
Another 36 residents died from complications of COVID-19, bringing the state’s total number of probable and lab-confirmed deaths to 15,765.
According to Gov. Phil Murphy, the state’s daily positivity rate was 2.36% and its rate of transmission was 0.84.
Remote learning an option for all N.J. students
Murphy announced Friday that all New Jersey students would have the option to learn entirely remotely for the upcoming school year.
It came a few weeks after the administration announced that schools would be open at least in part for in-person learning come September.
“We want to provide … as much flexibility as possible to parents, to school districts, so that they can implement their plans,” he said.
Chief Policy Advisor Zakiya Smith Ellis said the move was in response to feedback from parents and school officials.
“This is an example of us being responsive, I think, to the concerns that we heard from families. And this really gives families the option to choose what they believe is best for their child.”
Murphy announced a program earlier this week to use coronavirus relief money to bridge the “digital divide” and buy laptops and other devices for some 230,000 students who lack them.
For students who do return to in-person instruction in the fall, they can expect new precautions to prevent the spread of coronavirus, such as 6-foot social distancing, face coverings, and staggered schedules.
Murphy asks teenage partygoers to cooperate with contact tracers
For the second day in a row Murphy called on teenagers who attended a party in Monmouth County, which may have been linked to a cluster of coronavirus cases, to cooperate with contact tracers.
Murphy condemned underage drinking but said the state was not interested in busting the youths for that, but rather it wanted to track the possible spread of COVID-19.
“Whatever activities these young people may have been engaged in is not anyone’s focus, per se,” Murphy said. “Stopping a potential outbreak of coronavirus is.”
His comment came after reports that local contact tracers were having trouble tracing possible coronavirus spread related to the party.
According to Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli, New Jersey currently has 1,092 contact tracers.
New Jersey isn’t the only place struggling to get cooperation with contact tracers. Authorities in Rockland County, New York issued subpoenas when they could not get people who attended a party there to answer their phones.